Kindergarten Classroom Zones Part 2

Saturday, 8 September 2018

In Kindergarten Classroom Zones Part 1, I shared my plan for classroom set up in "zones" as inspired by Julie Morgenstern's Kindergarten Model of Organizing.

kindergarten classroom set up and design

In this post, I show you the down and dirty process I went through in creating those zones!

(Note: I've been adjusting to life at home without any children for the first time ever and I think I needed a project to throw myself into and this was it!)

Step 1 Sort Your Stuff

The first step was to unpack everything and place it in the zone in which it would be used and stored. This made it easier to get started and helped me avoid that, "where do I begin" feeling.

kindergarten classroom set up and design

In doing so, I emptied every cupboard and closet.  I quickly found that I needed a "don't know" pile for those things I wasn't sure about.  As this pile grew and grew, I realized that this was the stuff I would probably have to get rid of since it didn't really have a home!

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Step 2 Organize Each Zone

Once everything was sorted, I went zone by zone and began to put things away.  I had to think about how often I used certain materials, how much space they took up, and whether they were really worth keeping.

I liked the idea that some materials, that had been hidden away in cupboards, might now get more use since they would be more accessible and stored in their appropriate zone.

While I wanted things to be out and easily accessible to both the children and I, I didn't want the visual clutter, so in many cases I "containerized" stuff rather than just placing them loosely on shelves.

These baskets were a great deal! One had a $1.99 sticker on it and the cashier at the Christmas Tree Shop let me buy all 6 for that price! #MerryChristmastome

kindergarten classroom set up and design

I also had to consider which materials were going to be open and closed to children in each zone so that I could be intentional about what I offered at any given time. It was also important (and challenging!) to leave some empty space in each zone to set up and rotate out new invitations throughout the year.

Step 3 Add Soft Touches

Lastly, seating options, pillows, lighting, rugs, and plants were added to soften the zones and make them more inviting.  This was the fun part and felt like dessert!

kindergarten classroom set up and design

This process took about 5 days and involved evening trips to Walmart, Big Lots, and The Christmas Tree Shop to find just the right storage containers.  I found it helpful to have pictures of each zone "in progress" on my phone and a measuring tape in my purse to use while out shopping.

Here are the "done enough" zones as they looked before the start of the school year!

Meeting Zone

In this zone, I placed everything we might need for morning meeting, birthday celebrations, and whole group instruction.  I added the blue bins to hold instructional materials that I need for the day (one for morning and one for afternoon).  The middle one holds supports such as fidget toys and egg timers.

kindergarten classroom set up and design

I maximized storage behind the easel using shoe pockets and baskets to hold different types of markers, sharing balls, interactive writing materials, sentence strips, and erasers.

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Also in this area are lots of empty bins that will eventually hold the books we will read together. 

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Unpacking/Packing Zone

This is the spot where children keep their belongings.  Each child has their own cubby basket that houses tool boxes and headphones. Backpacks rest on the base of the cubbies and coats are hung on the hooks. 

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Next to the cubbies, is the place where lunches are stored.  Take-home folders go in the "turn-in bin" on the bottom shelf.  Homework folders go in the bottom cubby.  

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Supplies Zone

It used to be that many of our community supplies were spread out all over the room.  Now they are in one central location and in easy reach of my small group table so I can quickly grab white boards, highlighters, or makers when we need them.  

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Teacher Zone

Here I put supplies that are mainly for me to use.  Sticky notes, pads of paper, and note cards for communication, files for important papers, and a little basket of Rx that holds cough drops, Tylenol, and a never ending supply of tea bags!  

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Art Zone

Everything art goes here! Paper is stored below the easels, brushes between the easels and collage materials are kept in the little linen bins on an old toy bin rack. And in case you are wondering where I get all these little bins, it's from The Christmas Tree Shop ($1 each)! 

kindergarten classroom set up and design

These shelves are organized by color and hold paint, markers, crayons, and colored pencils.    

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Science/Research Zone

This space backs up to our meeting zone and serves double duty as a place for calendar and news as well as independent research during discovery time. (Find the birthday bunting HERE!)

kindergarten classroom set up and design

The corner holds plants for the children to care for and jars of tiny treasures for them to explore.

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Closed storage for science materials is found on the bottom shelves.  The tubs on top will be for collections of objects to observe, sketch, take-apart, and experiment with. Science tools are kept in the shoe pockets behind the tubs. 

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Building Zone

The blocks on the bottom left shelf are open to children.  The storage containers on the bottom right are closed storage and will be rotated in throughout the year.  The baskets on top will eventually hold smaller items known as "loose parts" that children can incorporate into their block constructions.  The clothesline strung across the back will be used for pictures that might provide inspiration to little builders. 

kindergarten classroom set up and design

More closed storage behind the chairs for additional materials that will be rotated in and out.  The counter under the window holds different shaped frames and wood pieces children can use while building.  

kindergarten classroom set up and design

The blue and green tubs hold fine motor building materials such as Legos, Knex and Magnetix.  We call these "tub toys" and reserve these for indoor play when we are unable to go outside. 

On the bookshelf are books about building that might also provide inspiration for children. 

Makerspace Zone

The baskets on the left hold construction sets including train sets, marble runs, peg boards, and beads/laces. The cupboards under the window provide closed storage for this center.  

kindergarten classroom set up and design

This bookshelf holds makerspace supplies that children might use to create or invent something new.  They can select their materials, place them on the tray, and bring them to the workspace by the window.

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Writing Zone/Quiet Zone

This zone has a few different functions.  The location is in a corner, far enough away from our meeting area and work tables, that is ideal for 1:1 assessments.  It is also great as a quiet spot for a child who might need a break or is easily distracted when completing independent work.  Lastly, it is used as a writing center during discovery time.

kindergarten classroom set up and design

The counter behind it, as well as the cupboards below, are used to store writing and assessment materials.  

kindergarten classroom set up and design

(It occurs to me as I look at this picture that this is probably not the best place for our flag - it was placed there before I moved into this space and until this very moment, I have never given it a second thought! The lesson here is to take pictures of your space and you will see things you otherwise overlook!)

Math Zone

I didn't realize how many math materials I had accumulated until I gathered it all up in one space! There was so much stored in my closet and cupboards that just wasn't getting used.  So in order to make it all fit, I got rid of anything that I used only once or twice a year as well as class sets of materials that were not needed since I teach math in small groups.

Anything in the cream colored baskets is closed storage while the bead counters and brown baskets are open to children.  The empty space next to the felt board will be where I will rotate out new materials as they relate to our small group lessons.   

kindergarten classroom set up and design

These Pringle containers hold math manipulative/loose parts that I use during small group math as well as make available to children through games and center invitations.

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Seasonal puzzles are stored in this basket and covered with a crib sheet.

kindergarten classroom set up and design

Reading and Storytelling Zone

This "secret door" actually leads to a closet that I am now using to store books including leveled readers, anthologies, big books, and collections of picture books. 

kindergarten classroom set up and design

The linen baskets will hold storytelling props that children can use to retell stories that we have read together.

kindergarten classroom set up and design

This shelf holds the children's book boxes.  Felt boards and felt stories will be kept on the top shelf.

kindergarten classroom set up and design

So that's it - but set up is never quite done until the children arrive and begin to use the space!

This process definitely raised my awareness about storage and use of materials and I'm sure I'll continue to tweak things as we move through the year.

If you are looking for more guidance on setting up centers, you might find these Center Start Up Guides to be helpful.

Use these set up guides to create choice time discovery centers in your kindergarten classroom

Hope your year is off to a great start!

Thanks for stopping by!

If you found this post helpful, and think others might too, please consider sharing it on your favorite social media platform.

Set up your kindergarten classroom in 3 easy steps using a zone system


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